A soft chuckle. And then another. A louder one. Now I'm just flat out laughing. I, Kanako Yasaka, reminiscing? What a waste of time. Life should be exciting! Nuclear Power, Kappa Revolution! I shouldn't be in timeout...even though Sanae put me in here for dirtying the house from a wild youkai party I held here...again.
I laid down and looked at the ceiling. There, in crude crayon markings, was a picture of me and Suwako. Sanae hadn't removed it, I guess.
I sit up and sigh. Suwako. Who knew where she was now. She was always carefree and did things at her own pace. She was...a good friend. She just up and left five years ago, and nobody's heard from her since. Sanae never seemed to be troubled by that, but she never really regained that old cheerfulness.
"Why, Auntie Kana?"
Sanae was the child of a bright future. She had good parents. Her mother was very faithful to the shrine. We had a lot of faith then thanks to her, and her husband helped protect the area. But when her parents died protecting the shrine from a drunken mob, it took a long time for her to smile again. She was now alone. Sure, it was a miracle that she survived. But, at that moment, what she wanted wasn't a miracle, but her parents.
"Don't call me Auntie!"
And all Suwako and I could do was watch over her. We were now her Guardians, but we weren't her Protectors. And because Sanae wasn't of age, she couldn't draw faith to us. It was a short time of much sadness for Suwako. And Sanae. And me.
"Ow! S-Suwa! K-K-Kana hit me!"
But Sanae was a child of miracles. The tears she shed for her parents somehow allowed us to materialize without any shrine maiden, and before she knew it, she had two mother figures in her life. Of course, we had to wade through the initial awkwardness and introductions first. But a moment of pure sadness had turned into a moment of pure gaiety, all because of the power of Sanae's miracles. We were blessed.
"Kanako, you know not to hit Sanae. Timeout for you, right, Sanae?"
Sanae grew up under our tutelage, but we were exhausting our resources. In order for us to stay materialized, we used up a lot of faith. The faith we had accumulated under Sanae's mother was running out, and Suwako and I were in danger of dematerializing right before Sanae's eyes. Suwako didn't seem to mind disappearing again, but I didn't want to see Sanae sad again. I purposed to find another source of faith, and quickly.
"Yeah! Kana timeout!"
I found a source, and very close by. A secluded realm called Gensokyo was teeming with youkai and humans, both of which contained large amounts of faith that was laying dormant in them. I wanted to move everything to Gensokyo, but there was no way to. It was protected from a barrier that kept the outside out and the inside in, and barriers weren't anywhere near my area of expertise.
In order to move everything, the amount of power I would need would exhaust the remaining faith we had, and we'd be back to square one. That wasn't an option. But I had found someone to help. A...demon, but it was help nonetheless. She was willing to help us across, for a small price. Just half of the faith that we would obtain. My half. I accepted.
"No, Kana. Timeout! Timeout!"
Sanae wasn't that surprised by the transfer, she could feel that there wasn't a lot of faith before. Suwako, however, was the most surprised at this action. She confronted me one day and chewed me out about what I had done. I took it in stride, knowing that this was all for the good of Sanae. I wanted Suwako to see it my way, but it was not to be. It was the one issue we never resolved amicably.
"Timeout, kero! Timeout!"
I think you know what happened next. The red-white came and beat me and Suwako. She wasn't strong, or agile, but she was precise, and my power could do nothing against her technique. The amount of faith we had obtained was quantifiably much, but I knew I would never get to obtain my share. But it was all for Sanae. All...for...Sanae...
Sanae probably didn't know about why I was a god to begin with. Sure, she knew that I had beaten Suwako and obtained her shrines and their power, but how was I god in the first place? Suwako was the embodiment of Mishaguji, but what was I? She didn't know.
"Kana, don't hit me anymore, okay?"
I wasn't the embodiment of anything. In order to defeat Suwako's people, the attackers fabricated me and presented me as a snake god. In order to defeat a god, you needed a god, no matter how fake it was. And in order to defeat a god, you needed to take the faith of the opposing god away. Since I wasn't a real god, you couldn't take faith in me away, while Suwako's followers began to doubt.
"Okay, Sanae. You're a good girl."
But because I wasn't a real god, faith interacted with me in a different way. As soon as I took the faith in Suwako away into me, I became like a god in every way, shape, and form. But deep down inside, I wasn't. I was just a vessel holding faith. Over time, this faith became a necessity for me, a lifeblood. Normal gods, like Suwako, aren't fazed by a lack of faith. I, however, knew that if I lost all faith in me, I'd die.
That's why I was so persistent in obtaining faith. Suwako didn't mind because she could come back. I knew I couldn't. We were both gods, but we saw things differently. Then again, we had different origins and different ideologies.
"Kanako, you better behave from now on."
I spent time continuing major projects, like my plan for Nuclear Energy. It was something I had studied when I was looking for more faith, and I hoped that its success would allow me to stave off my last breath. But it was not to be. It was incompatible with me, and all I could do was put on a happy face for Sanae and wait for the day that I expired.
"Okay. Sanae, Suwako, Kana promises to be a good girl too."
That day? Today. I have less than half a minute left, and I'm waiting for Sanae to finish up. What a way to go, huh?
"Good. Kana can come off timeout now!"
"Kanako, you can come off timeout now. Kanako? Kana!"
Ah, Sanae. You're such a good girl. You dropped everything to rush to my side.
"Kana! Speak to me!" Sanae is already crying, and I can't wipe them away this time.
"Ah, Sanae. You're...such a good girl." I can't talk easily now, Sanae.
"Kana! Don't go!" Sanae holds me in her arms, her eyes refusing to close.
As I fall to the floor, I look at the things Sanae had dropped, one of which was a card. The last thing I see is in that card: the words "Happy Birthday, Kanako".
Komachi told me that Suwako had been scouring Gensokyo for items to break me from the contract of that demon. But as she finished her scavenger hunt, 'the pharmacist' told her that the demon had been severed and it was impossible to break my contract with it. Disappointed, Suwako came back to our shrine a few moments too late. I had already died.
I turned back toward Komachi's departing boat.
"Goodbye, Sanae. Goodbye, Suwako. Thank you for all the time we spent together."
"Was it worth it?" A voice I recognized sprung up behind me. It was the demon...no. It was the miracle.